Midday open thread: Climate change harms us 'right now'; a trillion photos; reefer madness redux

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is The upstanding kids of Covington:

Survey: Almost half of Americans say the U.S. is being harmed by global warming ‘right now’: In the latest round of a decade-long survey—Climate Change in the American Mind—48 percent of respondents said they believe climate change is having a negative impact “right now.” That’s a rise of 9 percentage points since last spring, and double the percentage who answered the same survey question in 2010. This is an encouraging shift that may help spur elected foot-draggers in Congress and state legislatures to join climate hawks who want to take aggressive action to address the climate crisis. The survey also found 73 percent of Americans say climate change is happening, 62 percent say it is mostly caused by human activities, and 69 percent are at least “somewhat worried” about it. “For the longest time, we have been saying that while most Americans understand that the climate is changing, most systematically misunderstand it and misperceive it as being a distant threat,” said Edward Maibach, a professor at George Mason University and of the principal investigators of the survey. “That is a major change. […] And from everything I understand about the social science of how people think about climate change, it’s when they get the fact that it’s not just a polar bear problem, that’s when they come to deeply care. It’s when they come to really expect real solutions to be put forward by our national and our community leaders.”

Record number of Natives are part of Montana legislature this year: That’s 11 Native senators and representatives from nine tribes, making up 7 percent of the legislature. This is the same percentage that American Indians make up in the state population as a whole, and it’s the highest Native percentage in any state legislature.

No tart Sweethearts candy this Valentine’s Day as the company went out of business. But they and Necco wafers will return next year.

Famed humor columnist Russell Baker dead at 93: For 36 years, the two-time Pulitzer winner treated readers to 5,000 of his New York Times “Observer” columns, which were also syndicated in hundreds of other newspapers. Known for whimsy and invented characters and dialog, Baker developed a devoted following over the years, eventually writing 15 books, including Growing Up, his autobiography of being raised during the Great Depression, for which he won a Pulitzer in 1983. In addition to his Pulitzers, he won two George Polk Awards, and numerous other honors. He hosted “Masterpiece Theater” on PBS from 1993 to 2004, having succeeded Alistair Cooke. Before taking on the column, he was a police reporter in Baltimore, wrote for Reader’s Digest, Look magazine, and covered the 1956 and 1960 presidential campaigns. 

MIDDAY TWEET

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My GPS sucks. https://t.co/CIpmXtsJIn

— God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 22, 2019

Staff members of potential Democratic presidential candidates say they want campaign culture to reflect the values being put forth on the election trail: According to McClatchy interviews with current staffers who have worked on previous campaigns, this means “Unionizing. Paying interns $15 an hour. Ensuring time off. Institutionalizing salary transparency.” Said Rebecca Katz, a veteran progressive strategist: “Every candidate should practice what they preach. If they’re talking about the American Dream, they should provide it for their own staffers as well.” Ihaab Syed, secretary of the Campaign Workers Guild, a union for campaign staffers, told the news agency: “It’s hard to be going door-to-door, telling people you should vote for this candidate because they support a $15 minimum wage when you yourself are making less than that. It’s hard to go door-to-door, calling for Medicare for All, when you’re not being given health care.” Only one already-declared presidential candidate committed himself. That’s Julián Castro, the former Obama administration housing secretary and ex-mayor of San Antonio. Through a spokesperson, he said he would pay staffers a $15 minimum wage and support them if they want to unionize.

Of the estimated trillion photos taken in 2018, which were the most memorable and how did they rise above the crowd that bombards us in the digital age?

As foreign news bureaus cut back or vanish altogether, free-lancers fill the void at their own risk.

A new round of reefer madness pokes up its head as oversimplified studies, cherry-picked data, and scientific errors plague new book and major articles on effects of marijuana:

Scientific research on the effects of marijuana is rife with holes, thanks in large part to it still being categorized at the federal level alongside drugs such as heroin and LSD. Unfortunately, when research is scarce, it becomes easier to mislead people through cherry-picked data, sneaky word choice, and misinterpreted conclusions.

Which brings us to Alex Berenson and Malcolm Gladwell, and what happens when tidy narratives outrun the science.

Two weeks ago, Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and subsequent spy novelist, published a book with the ominous title “Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.” Gladwell, meanwhile, published a feature in the New Yorker, where he is a staff writer, drawing largely on Berenson’s book and questioning the supposed consensus that weed is among the safest drugs. Combined, these two works offer a master class in statistical malfeasance and a smorgasbord of logical fallacies and data-free fear-mongering that serve only to muddle an issue that, as experts point out, needs far more good-faith research.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The shutdown drags on. It’s anybody’s guess how the Senate votes on it tomorrow. Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter frame the (in)action. Ivanka bags bizarre new Chinese trademarks. Trump photoshops himself some weight loss & longer fingers.

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